Sunday, November 20, 2016

Earthquakes and storms

It has been quite a week. Most of wellington and the upper South Island of New Zealand were woken abruptly at 12:02 am on Monday morning by a big (7.8 M) earthquake (or it turns out it was probably a couple of quakes) which lasted for over a minute. Fortunately freya slept through it. Aaron was standing in her doorway ready to grab her if needed. We were very lucky....just a few spices fell off the spice rack. But others were not quite so lucky.....

The biggest luck was the fact that it happened in the middle of the night as most of the damage seems to have been to office buildings in town and landslides completely blocking highways. Down south the main highway is closed due to lots of landslides and the road and railway lines are broken up in places, and several bridges are damaged. There could have been a lot more fatalities and injuries if it had been during the day. 

After the main quake there was a tsunami (although it wasn't very big). Lots of people from down on the flats evacuated to higher ground. Luckily we are high enough we just went back to bed. There have been lots and lots of aftershocks, some pretty large. It has made for a shaky week. 

To make things worse however, the main quake on Monday morning was followed by a large storm, which then resulted in more slips and flooding. Wellington was pretty much shut down for several days as no one could get in or out of town and buildings were being checked. Something's returned to normal by Tuesday...but others took a couple of days, and still others will probably take months - like the highways down south. 

For wellington it was a lucky escape as none of the quakes were under us.....but it certainly has increased everyone's awareness....time to update the emergency kit. 

18 months

Well our little baby is now a full blown toddler. She certainly has a mind of her own. Knows what clothes or shoes she does or doesn't want to wear. Having little melt downs when she doesn't get her way or another kid has the swing or toy she wants. Hopefully she will learn how to share at crèche! 

Her climbing has improved significantly, she can now climb up the ladder at the playground all by herself.  Freya has started a gym class for "tumbling tots" which she seems to enjoy. But this may have encouraged her climbing on to the chairs and dining table and she has tried to climb out of her cot..... She is walking much more, walking about half way back from the playground one time. All this activity has resulted in her slimming down slightly. 

Climbing the ladder at gym class

Her language is also coming along. Her understanding is really good and we now have "no" and nods for yes. This makes a big difference to the frustration levels. She is very vocal and loud, but doesn't have many words yet. The latest words are bubbles and turtle....but Freya can also make most of the farm animal noises now. She still loves books, her teddies, and her drawing has changed from lines to circles and squiggles. She is also now enjoying puzzles and shapes and can spend ages playing with balls. She loves to help with cleaning with her own brush and does some mixing of food in the kitchen. She can spend quite a while entertaining herself now....

Shapes and books..
Puzzles...this one was a bit easy. 

We did try to measure her height and weight the other day...but it looks like she hasn't grown much, and may have even lost some weight...hard to tell when she was wriggling so much. She feeds herself and is eating pretty well, trying new things. She loves weetbix, pizza, sausages, mashed potatoes, but also oranges and yoghurt and fruit smoothies. Lately she has also been eating tomatoes and hopefully she will eat everything, unlike her fussy parents. She has also decided that she wants to drink from a normal more sippy cup....except for milk at bedtime. 
Drinking from a glass

She loves not wearing a nappy and now that we are going into summer she is having a lot of nappy-free time around the house and garden. She has used the potty a couple of times....but the novelty has kind of worn off and we haven't had much luck lately. But it is early days. 

She loves being bring on summer and the better weather. It has been a very wet and windy October/November. 

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Tararuas tramping

I thought we would have taken freya for an overnight tramp before now....but time has just slipped by and there has always been something else going on, or we were too tired, or we thought she would keep everyone else in the hut awake. So an easy ranger tramp was a good excuse to go....and now freya generally only wakes a couple of times a night it was time to give it a try. We also went to a hut where there were a couple of bunk rooms, so less chance of waking others.

It was also great to have a couple of other adults who could carry some extra stuff for us as it turns out that you can just about carry freya and her clothes...but not much else in the baby backpack. And Aaron couldn't carry everything else. So others carried Freya's sleeping bag, some food, and a stove and fuel. 

We were headed in to Atiwhakatu hut in the Tararuas. A 2-3 hour, undulating big hills. The Rangers and rest of the group were much faster and headed off...and we trundled along behind, catching up with them when they stopped for a snack or break. Freya loved the bush and there were lots of shrieks with delight.....especially when she spied a dog and other people. She was pretty happy most of the time in the pack and even had a 30 minute snooze...although she woke when we stopped. She loved to play on the bridges and walked for about 20-30 minutes....with lots of stops to pick up and throw rocks.
Freya loved playing on the bridges

Tramping and tripping.... focussing on her feet.

She enjoyed the hut. Watching the girls try to start the fire and all the different things to explore. As luck would have it another toddler turned up who was a little older than freya...and they enjoyed racing each other and playing with Freya's ball. 

Despite quite a few people at the hut (17), we got a bunk room to ourselves, and freya slept okay. She was very tired after lots of exercise and not much sleep that day. 

Sunday morning we woke up to rain. So we got to test out our rain cover for the baby backpack in anger. It seemed to work just fine. Freya wasn't too fussed by the rain, especially dressed in her galoshes and coat. In fact I think she enjoyed the whole experience. Hopefully we can find other excuses and people to act as Sherpas over the summer. Although at 12 kg Freya is getting a little heavy.....

Testing out the rain cover for the baby backpack - you can see little ted sticking out - Freya is fast asleep warm and dry.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Stunning Switzerland!

Well after a week of thinking far too hard at the conference it was time for a holiday. After lots of fun at Amsterdam airport playing at the playground and watching planes from the observational deck, Freya and I boarded yet another plane to Zurich to meet up with Aaron and stay with some ex-NZ friends for a few days. Karl, Anna and Malachi very generously hosted us for several days in their countryside apartment just outside the city of Zug.
The old classic looking farm house that the apartment was in. 

Freya and 5 and a half year old Malachi got along very well. There were lots of hugs between them. Lots of good sharing of toys....especially the duplo. Karl and Anna acted as great tour guides taking us out to different places and giving us lots of tips about where to go and how to get there. Also acting as interpreters for the incomprehensible Swiss German.

Malachi, Karl and Anna going up in a gondola.

When we arrived in Switzerland it was very hazy, but after a day of solid rain the weather improved and was great the rest of our stay. We timed our trip to Mt Titlis to coincide with the best weather of the week. We got up to the Trubsee and spent the afternoon walking around the lake. The clouds still hung around and there were limited views of the mountain tops. We stayed overnight at the hotel and were rewarded with clear skies and amazing views in the morning.....and after a large breakfast we jumped on the first cable car to the top, well Kleine Titlis, to avoid the crowds. The views of the alps were spectacular...changing with the angle of the sun during the 2 hours we were at the top. We explored the cliff walkway and large suspension bridge, the ice cave and Freya experienced her first snow and sledging... She didn't want to put her hands down in the cold snow...but was very happy to slide down the slopes on her bottom.

Freya walking around the lake at Trubsee

The Hotel at Trubsee that we stayed in - very quiet in the off season!

Looking back down toward the lake and hotel of Trubsee from the Gondola

One of the many amazing vistas from the top

At the top of the cable car of Kleine Titlis playing in the snow

The crowds started to form at the time to head back down. 

It was a great week. Relaxing and active with lots of nice walks. Thankyou so much to Karl, Anna and Malachi for looking after us and feeding us and being such awesome hosts. We hope we can return the favour one day. 

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Sunny Utrecht....

A very quick flight from Aberdeen to Amsterdam and then a short train ride and we arrived in Utrecht. Everything is so close in Europe. We stayed in a little apartment with a lovely courtyard for the week. Fortunately the weather was perfect all week and Freya enjoyed pottering around the courtyard most afternoons, occasionally getting a visit from the owners friendly Bernese mountain dog. Mum and dad kept her busy in the mornings with visits to the Mifi museum, playgrounds, swimming and shopping. On my afternoons off we also made it to the botanic gardens and on a canal boat trip through and around the city.

Picnic at the botanic gardens, Freya with Nagymama and Nagypapa
Boat trip around the canals of central Utrecht

Although I had managed to make it to one day of the local New Zealand geoscience conference last November...this was Freya's first conference. She crashed the ice breaker and ate a lot of Dutch waffle biscuits and was introduced to many of my international colleagues (and friends) at lunchtimes and afternoon drinks. She was so fascinated by it all....constantly looking around and trying to take it all in. There were a few other babies and children there... But conferences are definitely not the most fun thing for a small child to be dragged around. I will try not to drag you to too many conferences in your childhood! 

It was a bit of a juggling act between trying to catch up with colleagues I needed to talk to about different projects, going to talks and trying to get around the many well as trying to spend a bit of time with Freya and mum and dad, who did a great job looking after her. Definitely not my most social conference....but I'm glad I made the effort to go and catch up with the world of paleoceanography! 

Saturday, August 27, 2016

It's a long way to "Aberdeen"'s a long way to go.....

I really didn't think I would get funding from work to go to my favourite triennial conference in holland this year. So when I did I was surprised and also very nervous about flying all that way with a 15 month old on my own as Aaron couldn't get enough holiday to come with us the whole time. Unfortunately freya is too big for a bassinet on the we had to buy her a seat.....or I would go insane with a wriggly girl sitting on me the whole way. With very low expectations of how well the trip would go....we set off. Fortunately freya did great and slept more than I thought. Delayed flights meant she didn't get much chance to run around at the airports where we had to change we did have to run up and down the aisles a few times. Freya turned on the smiles and got lots of attention from surrounding passengers and crew, and only screamed a couple of times and only briefly. I managed to keep it together until Heathrow when I almost lost it, when going through security for the 4th time on the trip, they confiscated the baby paracetamol...then I had to carry all my bags between 2 terminals as trolleys were not allowed to go on the train...and no one offered to help. Anyway we made it from wellington to Aberdeen ...very tired and jet lagged.

We had 6 days in Aberdeen catching up with Freya's cousins...and for Freya to become familiar with her grandparents who had volunteered to look after her the following week during the conference. Unfortunately the trip seemed to coincide with a new clingy phase for Freya....very unlike her normal adventurous and happy this made it a little harder and frustrating. 
 At the playground with her cousins....
Making music together ;)
I shouldn't have been surprised, but the summer weather in Aberdeen was rather disappointing...but Freya had fun playing with her cousins toys and going to the winter gardens at the park, playing in her nagymamas garden, seeing real pigs, cows and sheep at the petting farm...although she was pretty scared of them all except the chickens. 

 Nagymama feeding the sheep....
 Playing in Nagymama's garden
Learning how to be a monkey from her cousins!

Great to catch up with the family and over the space of a week we were mostly over the jet lag. 

Friday, August 5, 2016

15 months

Well we have reached another milestone. Freya had a check up and another lot of her vaccinations. In fact we ended up having the measles and chicken pox ones early as there are several cases in wellington at the moment. Freya continues to thrive and is following the 91st percentile curve for weight...a very healthy 11.22 kg, and the 75th percentile for height....78cm. She is certainly getting very good at eating. A month ago she was eating more than me at each meal....must have been going through a growth spurt. She seems to have gone back to a more reasonable amount of food now. 

Unbelievably we have continued to teethe....she now has 16 teeth and it appears she is still least there is plenty of drool and lots of chewing on her fingers. I can't believe she is getting her last 4 molars already....surely not! Please can we have a break from the teething for a few months. 

Freya can now walk really well and having mastered going up stairs a while ago she is now learning to climb up ladders now. She loves the playground, but I think it is as much about watching the other kids as it is about playing on the swings and slide. She now wants to play with the big kids and on the big kids stuff..... She is enjoying her tricycles...but doesn't last very long on them yet. Her favourite game that she doesn't seem to get bored of is dressing and undressing teddies and dolls (the latter they have at crèche). Aaron's comment the other day was "never in a million years did he expect to be putting a dress on a teddy bear!". She also loves to help around the house brushing the floor....helping with the washing....packing (and unpacking) bags. 

Please can I go on the big swing! 
Helping? With the washing by destroying the drying rack.
Helping to wash the windows...well playing with the bubbles anyway! 

She also is a big fan of books. She loves to make the animal noises of the creatures in the books. She has got a pretty good tiger growl, and lion roar, monkey noises and dog woofs! She understands a lot, but isn't talking, and although she uses dada and mumma...they aren't always in context. This last weekend she started to say "uh oh". So I'm sure a few more words will be coming soon. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Weekend in Christchurch

We haven't been away for time for an adventure. We headed down to Christchurch for the weekend to see Dan and Charlotte. Time to test out how Freya would go on a flight now she is a little older. We had thought we might go to the snow....but there hasn't been much and it involved taking even more stuff with us. So instead we went to check out the new playground they have just finished - the Margaret Mahy playground. 

There were lots of really cool slides....which Freya loved. She also enjoyed the trampolines and she would have enjoyed the water park if it hadn't been so cold and she had been allowed to get wet....As Always she enjoyed the swings.....but wasn't such a fan of the flying fox. Unfortunately the tower and the cargo nets were a bit advanced for her....maybe in a couple of years time. 

Bouncing on the trampoline

Playing with the water

View of the playground from the top of the big slide

We also went to the beach and for a couple of nice walks in the port hills, and around the suburbs to visit several other playgrounds and to fly Dan's drone. We also got to meet dan's nephew Max, who is 6 months younger than Freya, she didn't know quite what to make of the younger baby and was not impressed that he was getting more attention than her, or playing with the toys. 

Aaron flying the big kids toy.....drone.

The drone hovering 

It was great to get away and to catch up with friends.  Thanks for having us Dan and Charlotte. 

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Teething trouble....

No idea where the last couple of months have gone.....well actually I do. They have been filled with illness and teething......just before freya turned 1 year she started to get her first took about a month to come through. This was followed by number 2 molar....and then 3.....and now 4......and at the same time a canine as well....lots of drooling and grumpiness and not a lot of sleep some nights. On top of this Freya got very sick with flu (or a bad cold which included a high fever) and then a chest infection, which lasted about a week. So it has all been a bit of a blurrrr....

It was time for a new blog as Freya is changing so much. She is walking very confidently now...just struggling on rough ground. But the biggest change (at least from Aaron and my perspective) is her increasing understanding of words. She can't really say anything yet...except "at", which means cat....but also "ooof" which means woof for dog...and funnily enough despite the fact that we have no snakes in New Zealand, she can hsssss when she sees one in a book. But she understands so much.....and is communicating what she wants very effectively. Her eating has also changed a lot...and at the moment she seems to eat a lot, for someone so little, and be almost constantly hungry. Her favourite foods are cheese, yogurt, pancakes, Vegemite on toast....pasta is also pretty popular, along with mashed potatoes. She has also started to eat bananas....after months of finding them disgusting...

She still loves getting out on walks....we are making the most of the probably limited time we have left of her happy to be in the backpack. She especially loves walks where there are people and animals to see. She gets very excited when she sees a dog. Today we went along the south coast, out to red rocks (this was her first ever walk about a year ago). This time we made it out to sea the smelly, fat, seals lounging on the rocks. She also enjoyed having a little play on the beach.. checking out the shells and throwing rocks into a tide pool with her dad. 

In the backpack at red rocks a year after Freya first went there. 

Playing on the beach....

Lazy smelly seals

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Walking the new escarpment track

A few weeks ago a new section of the Te Araroa (the track that goes the length of New Zealand) along the Kapiti Coast opened. It traverses along the coastal range with great views out over the Tasman sea and Kapiti Island. With great weather forecast, we decided it was time to check it out before the end of summer and before Freya gets too heavy to carry, and wants to walk for herself and not sit in a backpack for several hours. The nice thing about the track is that this particular section starts and finishes at a train station. So the logistics of doing a through walk were easy. 

On the train causing mischief 

As a result of this the track starts and finishes along the train lines, personally I didn't find this particularly exciting. But in the middle it climbs up the steep escarpment, well above the road and rail below, with great views. Lots of steps going up and down, and a few token swing bridges were fun. I quite liked the short sections through the bush which gave you a bit of shade and change from the exposed track. 

Walking down lots of steps

One of the swing bridges

Aaron and I took it in turns to carry Freya as it was hard work carrying the pack. While Freya enjoys riding in the pack she did get a little bored and frustrated just before we stopped for lunch at the top. Freya certainly enjoyed the bus and train rides, as well as watching the trains and people go by on the walk. Not sure she paid much attention to the scenery! 

A nice day out from wellington and big adventure for our little one. 

1 year

Well we made it to the 1 year milestone. 366 days, 2 mothers days and 2 Christmases and a round the world tour. So Freya has crammed a lot in to her 1st year. She also took her first independent steps a week before her birthday. Since then she has been practising, but mostly takes a couple of steps and then dives for mum or dad or a piece of furniture. She unfortunately missed the side of the doorframe with her hand and hit it with her head, so is currently sporting a massive lump and scar on her forehead. Learning to fall😢 she has also now got the hang of both her tricycles, the indoor plastic one and the outdoor one. So she scoots around the house to get places, or uses her trolley, which she can now steer where she wants to go. She is in to some serious baby proofing has been needed. 
Climbing into and pulling everything out of cupboards! 

We had a nice little afternoon tea for Freya on Sunday before her birthday (Mother's Day). She didn't quite know what to make of it. But she cruised around and enjoyed herself. Between us we made her a pretty cool bear cake...I baked the cake and Aaron made the vanilla cloud frosting and built and decorated it. A pretty impressive effort for our first attempt at a children's birthday cake. 

Bear cake 

Family Birthday photo

She got lots of lovely birthday gifts from family and friends.  Books, clothes, a couple of sets of crockery and cutlery, and a few toys, including a digger and an 80litre tub of duplo, on loan from our neighbours for the next few years. So we are looking forward to lots of hours of fun reading books and playing with diggers and duplo!  Thankyou for all the gifts! 

Birthday girl in her party dress with a balloon.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Adventures with Gill, William and Mallory

New Zealand is a long way. So we always appreciate it when people come and visit from a long way away. So nice to see an old friend and her wee ones. We had a fun week starting with some nice walks on the volcanoes at tongariro national park through the native bush and to waterfalls. Freya's first time to the volcanoes. 
Freya enjoying her walk with views of ruapehu in the background. 
Mallory being chased out of the bush by William. 

Then we had a few days in wellington going to the botanic gardens, cable car, zoo, beach....and multiple playgrounds around town. The weather was very cooperative, with virtually no wind (for Wellington) and fairly balmy for this time of year. William also enjoyed playing and grooming our cat mifi.  While Freya enjoyed having some big kids to watch, copy and play with in the bath. 

At the beach paddling and throwing stones.....
Riding the purple dinosaur with Mallory. 
William and mifi cuddling. 

Hope it isn't too long before we see you again. 


Sunday, April 3, 2016

11 months

Kamikaze girl when it comes to going down the slide face first in the playground......but Freya isn't quite walking yet. Very good at pushing her trolley and starting to stand up and let go balancing for a few seconds, or longer if she is distracted. Life is certainly full on...this little girl isn't one for sitting still. The comment from care he was "she is a busy little girl". She is enjoying crèche and has lots of friends and fans....she loves to be outside with the older kids racing around, playing in the sandpit and climbing on stuff, and walking with one of the walkers! 

Her favourite toys at the moment are clothes pegs and a bunch of bottle caps we have been saving....taking them out and putting them into things. She also loves the stacking cups...although they don't stay stacked for very long these days. She also plays with her teddies and soft toys a lot more, putting them in the bassinet with everything else...and giving them the occasional hugs! 


She is also more interested in her books...and not just chewing them. She likes to turn the pages and opening flaps and touching the books that are fluffy and different textures. 

We still struggle with sleeping. But have had the occasional good night where freya has only woken 2 times. Usually more like 3 or 4 still. She struggled to cope with daylight savings....we had a few vEry early starts this last week....

Our stream of visitors continued. Which Freya loves. She loves having someone to pay attention to her and play. So nice to see you Julia. 

Home life is a bit more hectic as Aaron now has a full time job as a achitectural technician in town. He seems to be enjoying the challenge of his new career so far and he has survived the first few weeks. However the house and garden are suffering from a bit of neglect as it is hard to get much done when I'm at home with Freya. Oh is too short to worry about that! 

Monday, March 14, 2016

10 months

We have had a busy month with lots of visitors...and a very active little girl! Freya has been enjoying having lots of attention. So nice to see James and Becca and Louisa and Christian. 

Freya got her 8th tooth a few weeks ago we are looking forward to a few months of no teething ;). Freya is crawling faster and faster, climbing up the stairs in the garden and pulling up on everything, even things that aren't very stable or don't have much to grab on to. Last week she started to pull up on her trolley and started walking off...she hasn't quite got the hang of steering yet, so lots of crashing in to the walls and furniture, so lots of adjustments in direction required from mum and dad. She is managing to balance for a few seconds at a perhaps we are not far off walking? 

Walking with my trolley
Climbing the stairs.

She seems to be enjoy crèche, and is pretty settled there. She has a couple of friends who have recently started. So she has been helping them settle in. Swimming is also going well, with lots of underwater fun. And Freya managed to successfully ride a tricycle the other day. 

 Riding the tricycle

This parenting is pretty exhausting....even just watching her race around.